By Dede Demet Barry
As I sit at home in Girona watching the Vuelta on television with our new baby Liam on my lap, I am content knowing that I am not out there dealing with the heat the boys are racing in the south. Today the temperatures were once again extreme as they raced through the arid center of Spain.
Michael consumed 15 water bottles in the 153 kilometer stage and still felt dehydrated.
He was in a breakaway at one point today with 10 or so other riders and said that every one of the guys in the break was too hot to put forth any effort. Essentially, their bodies are using so much energy just to keep cool that they can’t pedal as fast as they usually do. Therefore, the riders stopped pulling through in his group, they were caught and the peloton slogged along on the melting tarmac towards the finish.
Leading up to the final sprint today, Discovery was helping their sprinter, Max Van Heeswijk. They basically put him into position to follow Alessandro Pettachi’s Fassa Bortalo leadout train. Max came sixth, which is not bad but he was a little frustrated as he was boxed in close to the line and didn’t manage to fully unleash his sprint. The team will continue to support him in the coming stages and hope for a stage win.
Jose Azevedo’s general classification hopes were dashed yesterday when he crashed and lost four minutes, but he seemed to be feeling all right today. Although, he had a bit more bad luck, as he got a flat tire with 10 kilometers to go. He chased back onto the group, but this required a big effort in the final kilometers of the stage.
Triki Beltran and Tom Danielson are feeling good and are hoping to shine in the mountains and move up overall. As a matter of fact, I talked with Tom today about his plans for the Vuelta and the interview is posted below.
Everyone else on Discovery will be looking for stage win opportunities. They all seem to be doing well, although they are suffering due to the heat.
Triki pointed out to Michael today that the trees that line the sides of the roads are now acorn trees, as they are no longer racing through olive country. The Iberic pigs famous for their great Pata Negra(the pigs have black feet) ham are fed the acorns and this gives the meat a sweet, nutty taste.
Tomorrow the boys face a 230-kilometer stage under the same heat…I will be watching with a lemonade under the air conditioner and Liam will be cooing for daddy.
A conversation with Tom Danielson
Dede Barry: You did a great ride in the prologue on Saturday finishing fourth. It looked as if you held back a bit on the climb. Was this part of the plan so that you could finish strong or did you feel like you had more in you that you did not tap into? Tom Danielson: Thanks. I went out too slow on the climb, a little too conservatively, as I didn’t want to blow up in the second half of the race. But, I think I could have gone harder as I was able to recover quite a bit on the climb. Regardless, I was happy with the result as I usually struggle a little more in the short TT’s.
DB: You looked super comfortable yesterday as well when you went up the road in a breakaway on the Category 2 Alto de San Jeronimo ascent. It looks like the climbing form is there. This must give you quite a bit of confidence for the mountain stages of the Vuelta. Are you going to target a stage or two to go for a victory? TD: My goals for the Vuelta are #1 to finish, second to go for a stage win and then to maybe shoot for a good result overall. The biggest thing that excited me about the climb the other day was that we had 5 guys in the group at the top and everybody was comfortable. This shows the team is good and will be able to animate the race. I look towards the steep climbs in the Pyrenees to get a good stage result.
DB: You and Michael pre-rode the first Time Trial course in Lloret de Mar last week, which is one of the first major tests of the Vuelta. Does the course suit you? Do you think this will be an opportunity for a stage win for you or one of your teammates?
TD: It is a good course for our team as we have a lot of guys that can time trial and climb-the course has a good climb in it so a pure time trialist will have a hard time winning. The course is not technical so it will definitely show which riders are the strongest in the bunch.
DB: Your wife Kristin has been following the first few days of the race. Has this provided a little extra inspiration?
TD: Yeah, it was great having her around and when she is there I find an extra 10% to give. She followed me in the prologue and that was really motivating for me. It is great knowing she will be at the hotel at the finish as well. That said we had to say goodbye to each other today as she is on her way back to school in Durango.
DB: As the race moves closer to Girona, Discovery will have a bigger cheering section. Now that you have been in Girona since the start of the season, does it feel like a home away from home for you?
TD: Yeah, for sure. I have made lots of good friends there and the town feels very comfortable to me now that I am well settled and know all the training roads. Being close will be a big boost to me and Michael as we will be familiar with a lot of the roads and it will be motivating to see faces we recognize at the starts and finishes.
DB: Will you give it a go at the World Championships after the Vuelta finishes?
TD: No, my season will most likely be over.
DB: What do you miss most about your hometown, Durango?
TD: Everything-being at home with my wife, the people, the town atmosphere, the roads, the weather, the mountains, and the restaurants…
DB: What was on your Ipod when you were warming up for the prologue? Tom: 2PAC and Biggie Smalls on shuffle.